Lufthansa’s rumored retirement of its entire fleet of A380s is set to be decided upon next week. In a meeting yesterday, CEO Carsten Spohr said that the future of the superjumbo would be confirmed on Monday. He warned that deeper cuts to both the fleet and the workforce were likely to be needed, as the airline’s recovery continues to be sluggish.
Is there a future for the A380 at Lufthansa?
Rumors began swirling last week that Lufthansa was mulling dropping its superjumbo for good. While a number of the planes had been marked for early retirement, it was hoped that at least eight would eventually return to service. However, people close to the matter warned that the airline could be facing a future with no A380s at all.
Naturally, these rumors were a topic of investigation at yesterday’s closed meeting at Lufthansa HQ. CEO Carsten Spohr, conducting a question and answer session with employees, said that the future of the giant Airbus was indeed in question, and that a decision would be made by next week. Aero.de reports that he said,
“We will decide next Monday whether further A380s will be withdrawn. I believe that if A380s go out, it will be all the remaining ones. We would then say goodbye to the A380 fleet.”
Overall, Sphor believes that only twin-engine aircraft have a real future in the Lufthansa fleet, despite some of its A340s still being relatively young. While the airline may well decide to shelve more of these and potentially more of its Boeing 747-400s too, it’s unlikely it would want to part with its newer and more efficient 747-8s.
Deeper cuts to fleet and staff
The German airline is struggling to recover its network and capacity in the face of ever-changing border restrictions and a widespread reluctance to travel. Bloomberg reports people attending the meeting said that bookings for October stood at just 10% of 2019’s levels, signaling a slower rebound than Lufthansa’s recovery plan had hoped for.
As a result, Sphor is reported to have admitted that the airline is contemplating deeper cuts to both its fleet and its workforce. The airline had already announced a fleet reduction of some 100 aircraft, but that number could be significantly higher in the end.
On the workforce side, Lufthansa previously announced some 22,000 jobs at risk. Spohr dismissed allegations that the real number could be as many as 42,000, saying that was much too high. However, he did concede that the final number of layoffs would likely be somewhere between the two. Reuters pegs this number at around 28,000, or a fifth of the workforce.
Lufthansa had previously anticipated restoring around 50% of its capacity by December this year, but with trends as they are, Spohr doesn’t have much faith in this ambition. He told attendees that, right now, he would be happy if the airline could achieve a 25% restoration by then.
Despite having a $10 billion bailout granted in June, it seems Lufthansa still has a mountain to climb to get back onto solid ground again.